But I did thoroughly enjoy myself anyway. While the Phoenix Valley was sweating under 105 degree Fahrenheit and Tucson wasn't much cooler, we (my new dog Mecki and I) were on our way to Hannagan Meadow, which according to Wikipedia is one of the coldest inhabited places in Arizona.
But first we had to get there, and the early part of the trip right after turning north from I 10 on Hwy 191 is not very pretty. The Safford stretch was endless and boring. Mt Graham invited on the left, but we it wasn't on our list this time.
|Clifton on the San Francisco River|
In Clifton Mecki stood unmoved and yawning right next to a rumbling train that shook the ground under out feet. The little guy is fearless.
In Morenci, it got depressing. Freeport-McMoRan offers pull-outs to scenic views of about the worst destruction that humans can wreak on the earth. The huge pit mine, plus smelters and ponds of toxic sludge - eye sores praised as attractions - from horizon to horizon.
|Freeport-McMoRan Copper Mine in Morenci|
But the fire had also opened up many areas for fresh growth and wildflowers, perennials and annuals alike.
|Parey's Agave, Asclepias sp., (Milkweed), Erysium sp. (Wallflower), Orobanche sp, (broomrape), Yucca baccata (Datil yucca or Banana yucca)|
|Corydalis aurea – Golden Smoke, Scrambled Eggs|
|Strymon melinus (Gray Hairstreak and Callophrys gryneus siva (Siva Juniper Hairstreak)|
A lush Milkweed had attracted Valley Carpenter Bees and Sweat Bees as well as Small Milkweed Bugs and Hairstreaks, but no Monarchs, sorry.
Surprisingly, a Bee Fly's proboscis proved long enough to reach into the deep throat of a Lonicera-like flower. Acmaeodera bodwitchi (Jewel Beetles) were meeting on Fleabane (Aster). At this elevation Oaks and Juniper predominate.
|Looking east into New Mexico|
|Cirsium neomexicanum – New Mexico Thistle|
Sharpshooter Oncometopia alpha female burdened with some red mites, a leafbeetle genus Chryptocephalus, two juvenile jumping spiders genus Phidippus and two bees, Dianthidium sp. and Apis mellifera (Honey Bee) were only a few of the insects and spiders on the big thistle. They all had a great view!
|Monochamus scutellatus (Whitespotted Sawyer)|
|Left and middle Formica fusca, workers with larvae and pupae, right swarming Liometopum luctuosum|
|Lacon pyrsolepis, Elateridae|
|Nicrophorus guttula (Yellow-bellied Burying Beetle)|
The next morning, Mecki and I started around sunrise to explore some trails through mixed conifer stands and aspen.
Interesting spiders: a cobweb spider on the wall of a restroom, a colorful Mecaphesa dubia ambushing insects on a cactus, a Tibellus oblongus was sitting on my dogs head, and finally an orb weaver trying to hitchhike in the window of the van.
|Linyphia rita, Jillian Cowles det.|
|Jerusalem Cricket and Camel Cricket|
|Tenebrionid, Aphodius fimetarius, Sphaeridium scarabaeoides|
|Hannagan Meadow Lodge|
On the other side of the ridge, towards Eagar, there was no rain. At an old cattle ranch that is now the Sipe Wildlife Viewing area, the caretaker told me that it had not rained for years, but that the ranch boasted an average of over 30 in per year in earlier decades.
|Western blue flag, Rocky Mountain iris, and Missouri flag. Iris missouriensis|
|Broad Tail Hummingbird|
|Callibaetis ferrugineus hageni, Ephemeroptera (Mayflies)|
On a tent of caterpillars an assasin bug, Pselliopus zebra seemed drawn to the motion within. Due to the low temperature and rain, all the caterpillars stayed home and were quite safe from this visitor.
|Merhynchites wickhami (Western Rose Curculio)|
Some small umbelliferous plants that seemed to be quite invasive on the disturbed grassland just came into bloom. I found one single flower longhorn on them. With Bob Androw's help I learned that it's Gnathacmaeops pratensis and this may actually be a range extension for this northern species (?).
|at the Little Colorado River|
But when the rain started yet again, I carried my camera to safety and began our long drive home.